Francisco Erwin Galicia, a U.S. citizen who spent almost a month in Customs and Border Protection custody before being released Tuesday, told The Dallas Morning News the conditions he experienced made him want to self-deport. He said he wasn’t allowed to shower in the 23 days he was detained at the CBP facility in Falfurrias, and lost 26 pounds due to lack of food. “It was inhumane how they treated us. It got to the point where I was ready to sign a deportation paper just to not be suffering there anymore. I just needed to get out of there,” he said. Galicia claimed he was crammed into a holding area with 60 other men, who slept on the floor or the bathroom floor with aluminum foil blankets. Some men were sick and bitten by ticks, he said, but the guards warned them not to ask for a doctor or else their stay at the facility would start over.
Despite showing officials his Texas ID and having his mother present his birth certificate to officials, Galicia was not released until his story made headlines. CBP and Immigration and Customs Enforcement have not commented on Galicia’s description of facility conditions, but said it can take “more time to verify” an individual’s citizenship in certain situations.